Do clothes make the man? the bishop? the Church? UPDATE

Bishop Kevin Dowling C.S.Ss.R.

UPDATE: After being posted on Independent Catholic News, Bishop Dowling's remarks were removed. The story behind this is reported at America's blog, In All Things. Subsequently, National Catholic Reporter spoke with Bishop Dowling and his talk is now available online at NCR. And the text of the bishop's talk has now been reposted at ICN.


James Martin, S.J., over at America's blog, In All Things, alerts us to a talk given by Kevin Dowling, C.S.Ss.R., the Catholic bishop of Rustenburg, South Africa on June 1. Bishop Dowling begins with a reference to a Tridentine Mass celebrated by Bishop Edward Slattery in Washington, DC on April 24 and to the cappa magna Slattery wore in procession. To help those who unfamiliar with the vesture Dowling mentions, here's a video of Bishop Slattery at that liturgy.

(There are those who defend the use of the cappa magna and a discussion on just that topic can be found over at the blog, Pray Tell.

Bishop Dowling begins with the image of the cappa magna to get at what he calls the "carefully planned dismantling" of Vatican II. Here's a snip from his lengthy speech:
The Southern Cross [South Africa's "national Catholic weekly"] about three or four weeks ago published a picture of Bishop Slattery with his “cappa magna” – in colour... For me, such a display of what amounts to triumphalism in a Church torn apart by the sexual abuse scandal, is most unfortunate. What happened there bore the marks of a medieval royal court, not the humble, servant leadership modelled by Jesus. But it seems to me that this is also a symbol of what has been happening in the Church especially since Pope John Paul II became the Bishop of Rome and up till today - and that is “restorationism”, the carefully planned dismantling of the theology, ecclesiology, pastoral vision, indeed the “opening of the windows” of Vatican II – in order to “restore” a previous, or more controllable model of Church through an increasingly centralised power structure; a structure which now controls everything in the life of the Church through a network of Vatican Congregations led by Cardinals who ensure strict compliance with what is deemed by them to be “orthodox”. Those who do not comply face censure and punishment...
More and more we're witnessing bishops around the world beginning to critique one another and even the Vatican - something unknown for centuries until very recently. Sometimes it's a retired bishop who speaks up but in this case, Dowling is a sitting bishop, the ordinary of his diocese. There are, of course, many issues which demand the unity of faith we express in the Creed. But a healthy disagreement among members of the Church can lead to greater understanding and growth.

You'll find the complete text of Bishop Dowling's remarks here.

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  1. Snap Austin!! I put the same article on my blog today but with no video so I hope you don't mind if I pinch the video to add to my piece.
    I have also put a link in to your comments on prayer in a previous post - are we in spiritual synch do ya think ?!
    I want to do more on prayer so if you have any ideas or would like to do a synchro blog at some point it would be fun !!

  2. I had just read Bishop Dowling's talk and had forwarded it to two different Catholic groups that I belong to. It is one of the best NCR articles I have ever read. Thank you for posting on concordpastor.blogspot.com The more exposure Bishop Dowling's remarks receive the better. I applaud his stance and the courage he has shown in making it public.


  3. Wouldn't you feel foolish wearing a cappa magna? You're title question is poignant, "Do clothes make the man?"

  4. Thank God for the bravery of Bp. Dowling, who had the courage to name the "elephant in the room" Everyone surmises that this is what the Vatican is doing, but no one will come out and say it. (except to each other!) If the "powers that be" don't wise up soon they are liable to have another schism on their hands. I have already heard this period referred to as the "New Reformation"


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